Artillery: Tamuz The Terrible Gets Terminated



August 10, 2011: Israel recently revealed a special, and until now secret, version of their Spike missile. Called Tamuz, this version was based on the Spike ER, with a range of 25 kilometers. Tamuz has a radio link with the operator, and a video camera in the warhead. Thus the operator can literally fly the Tamuz missile into a target with pinpoint accuracy. Israel released videos of Tamuz in action, showing the missile being flown into the window of a distant building. Israel used Tamuz five years ago during the war with Hezbollah in southern Lebanon.

Tamuz is part of the Israeli Spike family of anti-tank missiles. All the Spike missiles use a lot of common technology. At the low end, there is the Spike SR, with a range of 800 meters, followed by the Spike MR with a range of 2,500 meters, then the 4,000 meter Spike LR and the 8,000 meter Spike-ER. The larger missiles, like the Spike LR missile, are shipped in, and fired from a sealed storage/launch canister. For example, the Spike LR container (with missile) weighs 13 kg (28.6 pounds). The canister is mounted on a 13 kg fire control system (10 kg/22 pounds without the tripod) for aiming and firing. The missile in its canister has a shelf life of twenty years. Spike uses a fiber-optic cable so that the operator can literally drive the missile to the target, although the missile can also be used in "fire and forget" mode.

Two years ago, Israel revealed the existence of a longer range version, called Spike NLOS (Non Line-Of-Sight). This one, apparently used for Tamuz, has a range of 25 kilometers and weighs 70kg (155 pounds), twice what the then current largest version of Spike weighed. Spike NLOS could be fired at a target the operator could not see (but someone else, with a laser designator, could see).

Shortly after Israel revealed Spike NLOS, it also introduced an even longer range missile called Jumper. This one put eight missiles, and a control unit in a nine (3x3) cell box (cargo type container) measuring 1.4x1.4x2 meters tall (4.3x4.3x6.2 feet). Each 63 kg (129 pound), 150mm guided missile is 1.8 meters (nearly six feet) long and has a range of 50 kilometers. The missile uses GPS and laser seeker for guidance.

The new revelations are mainly about a radio controlled Spike NLOS (or possibly Jumper as well) with a radio control system that passes a video feed back to the operator. Both of these systems are considered artillery, and they use artillery unit UAVs to locate distant targets and provide general location of the targets for what is apparently a GPS in the missile guidance system, to get it close enough for the operator to select the final aiming point (like a window or entrance to a cave) for the missile to hit. An elite artillery unit (Meitar) uses Tamuz, as the missile requires skilled operators to make sure the final moments of flight take the missile to the target. As effective as Tamuz is, no more will be bought when the current supply is exhausted. Israel won’t say what, if anything, will replace Tamuz.



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